Thursday, May 18, 2006


On my way to a medical appointment today (don't get me started about the medical insurance industry!), the NPR radio station was live streaming the Senate confirmation hearing for Michael Hayden, the nominee for Director of the CIA. In the waiting room of the medical place, the big-screen T.V.s were set on CNN, which was live streaming the court hearing for the Duke students' rape trial, with interuptions to switch over to federal agents probing a farm field for the body of Jimmy Hoffa (yes, the one who disappeared 30 years ago).

One would think that the confirmation hearing for CIA Director, especially because the nominee runs the agency (NSA) that is spying on all of us U.S. citizens, would be of special interest to Americans and would be broadcast by a major television news channel. But I guess I'm wrong - I guess most Americans would rather watch the hearing about an alleged gang rape - maybe because it's so much like reality TV.

I think I'm almost ready to give up on my fellow citizens - maybe Bush & Company is exactly what we deserve!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


No! Some readers, if there are any, might think that the preponderance of posts that are critical of the US government, and George Bush and his cronies, are an expression of my dislike or hate of America. Far from it. I write these because I think our country is great, and because I can say what I think under the terms of our Constitution.

So, in this post, I want to talk about what's good about America.
  1. The American people - we are creative, friendly, compassionate (the R's don't own the word) and generally free-thinking people. We are generous when it comes to helping others, whether at home or abroad. We value the individual, we value education, and we value diversity. (By "we" I mean the majority.)
  2. The American form of government - despite the many problems and issues that our form of government has, it is a system that attempts to represent the majority view, while recognizing dissenting views. Each citizen has the opportunity (I would like to think it's the responsibility) to be heard by way of her/his vote. We can criticize our leaders without fear of retribution. We have certain specified rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights - and when anyone tries to trample on these rights, we have processes to correct them.
  3. The natural beauty of our country - I am always amazed by the beauty of this country, no matter where I go. Oh sure, there are ugly places, despoiled by thoughtless industry, urbanization or other actions. But overall, we value the natural beauty of our land and have implemented laws to protect it and regulate actions that would ruin it. This isn't perfect, but because of our high standard of living and relative wealth, we choose to value our environment.
  4. The sense of position in the world - This is a tough one to explain, but I think that as Americans, we tend to see ourselves as having some important role in the world because of our history, our democracy, the strength of our economy and the strength of our convictions. This is a two-way street (like everything else - it's dialectical), ripe for abuse; however, as a nation, we have had some shining moments of "good" in the world.
Don't get me wrong here - I'm not oblivious to reality - but there is something about America that makes us great. Are we the best country in the world? I don't believe there is such a distinction. There are many other wonderful countries, and I have never subscribed to the notion that the USA needs to be Number One.

The frustration and anger I often express in my posts is because I feel that, as a nation with the qualities I've listed above, we squander opportunities to be truly great. History will be the final judge of who we were and what we did during our time, and I'd like my descendents to be proud of our role in history.